Will’s experience reflects the challenges, hardships, poverty, predation and prejudice faced by immigrants at that time. These themes however, remain as relevant today as they were in 1920, and portray an archetypal immigrant experience which is part of the proud shared heritage of all Americans.
While we have many resources available to electronically search our ancestry, most are limited to providing us the answers to our questions of who they were and where they lived. To Jim the more intriguing questions are why did they leave? How did they get to America? And, what were their experiences? Unless your family has a rich and reliable oral history, or multigenerational letters and diaries, the answers to the why, how and what questions are likely lost. However, by knowing the general time frame of their immigration and point of origin, a study of the concurrent historical events can give us a great deal of information about these hard to answer questions. Jim was intrigued by the number of culturally transformative events which occurred between 1917 – 1922, just half a decade. Some of these include World War I, the Russian Revolution, Prohibition, the Flu Pandemic, Woman’s Suffrage, a new wave of immigration to America, as well as being the mid-point of an extreme shift in cultural norms from the Victorian era to the Roaring 20’s.
The rich history of the period, his experiences and appreciation for the beauty, resources and resilience of the people in the north woods of Wisconsin led Jim to select that time and place for the book’s setting.
Jim is currently working on a couple of projects including another historical fiction, with Will’s daughter as the main character circa 1970.